Care for Your Leather Upholstery

What is leather?
Leather is produced from animal hides.  Hides cannot be used in their raw state and have to  be “tanned” to preserve them.  These processes take many months to complete which is why leather is relatively expensive and hence worth looking after.  Leather used in the Upholstery trade is all produced from cow hides, a typical hide being between 45 and 60 square feet in area.  Since leather is a natural product a typical hide will display blemishes in the form of scars caused by insect attack, barb wire or other injury and is also “flat cow” shaped!  This results in a normal allowance, for waste, of approximately 20%  which further increases the actual cost of the usable material.

Routine Care
If your Seven has been re-trimmed or your  original leather is in good condition it will benefit from being fed every six months or so with Hide Food. This comes in the form of a rich cream and, providing the leather is clean, should be rubbed in sparingly using a clean soft cloth.  The leather will quickly absorb the cream leaving it supple and strong.

Neglected Leather
If  the leather on your car/restoration project is original and basically intact but dry and brittle due to neglect or poor storage then it may be possible to breathe some life in it to retain originality.  In any case any repairs will always be easier if the leather is clean and supple.  Beware! Dry brittle leather is very easily damaged!  

The leather will first need to be cleaned.  This should be done using a weak solution of warm water and a mild detergent. Gently clean the surface taking care not to soak the leather.  Allow to dry naturally. Once it has dried it can be fed using a good quality Hide Food.  This should be gently worked into the dry leather. A number of applications will be necessary to allow the feed to penetrate and soak into the fibres of the leather.  It could take several weeks of feeding before the leather regains its suppleness.

Colour Restoration
If your leather trim is generally in good condition but the colour has faded or worn through exposing the natural colour this can be remedied using a colour renovation kit, matched to an un-faded sample of your original leather. The colour matched kit contains a special cleaning fluid and a combined dye and hide food solution.

Each kit is supplied with instructions for its use which should be followed closely! 

Leather renovation kits and hide food are available from I & C Woolstenholmes Ltd. and other firms (See Guide to Parts - Upholstery - Care of Leather).


This article, written by Regi Jarmin, originally appeared in CA7C Seven Focus in Feb 2007 pp24-25.


See also:

Renovating and Repairing Your Upholstery